Thursday, February 25, 2010

Blondie Brownies and Double Mocha Chocolate Trifle

Earlier this week I made this french toast recipe and had some leftover vanilla cream syrup. Now, I have a major sweet tooth and couldn't stand the idea of throwing away something so tasty. So I decided to mimic a dessert from Applebee's, the Blondie Brownie with maple syrup, but of course I would be using my vanilla cream syrup instead. I did find a copycat version of the Applebee's recipe on line, but ended up using the following recipe instead because it had a really high rating on Allrecipes.

Blondie Brownies
  • 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
  2. Measure 1 cup sifted flour. Add baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Sift again. Add 1/2 cup chopped nuts. Mix well and set aside.
  3. Melt 1/3 cup butter. Add 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar and mix well. If shortening is used, add 1 tablespoon hot water. Cool slightly.
  4. Add egg (beaten) and vanilla. Blend well. Add flour mixture, a little at a time, mixing well.
  5. Spread in 9 x 9 x 2 inch pan. Sprinkle 1/2 to 1 cup chocolate chips on top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
These were VERY easy to make, and I even followed ALL of the directions, including the sifting. I knew my strainer was good for more than just draining pasta! Ok, I guess not ALL the directions, because I didn't use any nuts. Next time I would use white chocolate chips to more closely mimic the Applebee's recipe. I very much enjoyed my blondie with vanilla cream syrup and ice cream!

This next recipe is one that I like to make because it looks like it took a lot more work than it actually takes. I actually made it for our small group meeting tonight because I had almost all the ingredients in the house already.

Double Chocolate Mocha Trifle
  • 1 (19.8 ounce) package brownie mix
  • 1 3/4 cups cold milk
  • 2 (3.3 ounce) packages instant white chocolate pudding mix
  • 4 teaspoons instant coffee granules
  • 2 tablespoons warm water
  • 2 cups frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 3 (1.4 ounce) bars chocolate covered toffee bars, chopped
  1. Prepare brownies according to package directions. Bake and cool completely. Cut into 1 inch cubes.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk and pudding mix until mixture begins to thicken. Dissolve coffee granules in water and stir into pudding mixture. Fold in whipped topping.
  3. In a glass serving bowl, layer one-third of brownie cubes, one-third of pudding mixture and one-third of candy. Repeat layering until all ingredients are used. Chill 30 minutes in refrigerator before serving.
Darin likes it because it doesn't taste too coffee-ish. It is really fast, easy and even if you don't have the toffee bars, it still tastes good.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Update on Me (If you are a male, feel free to skip this!)

It's been a while since I wrote this post. Since then, I have talked with a counselor, had my "procedure", and switched birth control. I don't think I've given an update since I switched to Lo-estrin at the end of November. I am happy to say that, hormonally, I am doing MUCH better. I have not really had to deal with "the crazy" for the past couple months and have just felt more stable. Of course, I still have my moments, and I am still quick to tear up at stuff (like Hallmark commercials), but I think that is just who I am.

The downside of the Lo-estrin is that I have gained some weight. I no longer fit into the jeans that I searched ALL over South Africa to find. I tried wearing them at Christmas when we were in Edgerton and then had to convince my in-laws that I was NOT pregnant when I had to use a rubber band to tie my jeans shut. Today I decided to wear them to get groceries and ended up walking through Aldi with my pants unbuttoned because I was starting to get a stomach ache. The pathetic thing is, I am still wearing them 2 hours later and while they do feel uncomfortably tight, I was just happy to report to Darin that I've been able to keep them buttoned up! Pathetic, I know, but I love these jeans!

The upside of gaining weight is that I've started exercising. My mom sent an ExerciseTV DVD out with my dad when he came in January and I have been pretty faithful about doing it since then-at least 3 times a week. Now that might not seem like a lot, but I am NOT an exerciser, so I am pretty proud of myself.

Another downside of the Lo-estrin is that my cycle is off again. I am not sure if this is due to the pill itself or if whatever was causing my problems before is going to come back. I had a couple months where my period was a week early and lots of spotting, and then this past month it never came, which made me think "Maybe I really AM pregnant", but the test said NO (and I promise, if I was pregnant, this is not how I would tell you!)

So I am going to just give it a few more months and if things haven't straightened out I will check in with my doctor. If I had to choose between having a "normal" cycle, which was finally happening with the Yaz (post surgery) or "normal" hormones, I would choose normal hormones, no doubt.

So that's my update. Thrilling, I know.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Rivalry, Revelry and Reading a Book

Here are some videos that give a glimpse into a pretty typical day around here (the whole Urgent Care thing is NOT part of a typical day. Thank you Jesus!)

First, a typical day involves Jori dancing. Twirling is her specialty. Watching Jori twirl tends to make Tyson feel sick, which leads to yelling and even more vigorous twirling! While we are so blessed to have kids that actually LOVE to play with each other, they do have their moments of rivalry. Little Miss Jori can really make a scene when she feels her brother has done something mean to her.

video

Next we have a continuation of the fighting, more dancing and lots of laughter. I have been trying to sit back and let Tyson and Jori figure things out on their own (except when they say things like "I'll kill you", then I usually say something), and it has been great to see that they usually get over whatever they were fighting about and get back to having fun! video


Finally, we have a new reader in the house! Tyson recently started participating in the Accelerated Reader program at school. He LOVES it and Darin and I love listening to him read. He does quite a bit of ad libbing for the camera, but the first part of every sentence is what is says in the book. He is so proud of his new found reading skills.
video

So these aren't the only things that take place in our day, but they are every day occurrences for the Fey family.

Urgent Care-2010

Here's to hoping that our trip to Urgent Care last night was the ONLY one we'll have to make in 2010. Seeing as it is only February, that is somewhat doubtful, but a mom can hope!

Last night Darin and the kids were wrestling. Ok, Darin was throwing the kids off of the chair, but it was all in good fun. Until he threw Tyson and heard a "pop". Then there was crying. And for the next hour and a half, a refusal from Tyson to change positions and lots of panic when he thought we would even consider moving him.

Darin held Tyson for a while, then we ate dinner (it was in the oven at the time of the "incident" and at this point we still thought he was just overtired and faking it. How's that for honesty!) While the three of us were eating, Jori kept giving us all sorts of medical advice like "When I hurt my arm, I do this (stretches arm out a couple times) then it is better" or "When I hurt my knees I do this (hops around ON HER KNEES several times) and they are better" or "When I hurt my eyes, I do this (blinks eyes rapidly) and they are better". It was pretty funny and she was so serious about it.

After dinner I started making phone calls. First to a friend that we thought had dealt with a child's broken arm (we were wrong), then to Darin's sister, Daci, who did have a child break a wrist. Her description of Makenna was eerily similar to what we were seeing with Tyson, only not in his wrist. Then I called the after hours hot line to see if there was a way we could determine if our 5 1/2 year old was seriously injured or just afraid of the pain that MIGHT occur if he moved his arm. The nurse said he was probably seriously in pain. Bad mom.

Then Darin took over the phone calling to find an Urgent Care center that was still open, as we were hoping to avoid going to the ER. He found one, so I called up Rachel to see if Jori could come hang with them for a while. Then we tried getting some clothes on Tyson-he and Jori had been playing "swimming" for a lot of the afternoon and he was still in his bathing suit. He was NOT having it, so Darin carefully wrapped him in a blanket and got him buckled up.

We dropped off Jori, had a few more moments doubting whether we actually needed to be going to Urgent Care, then finally went after Tyson let out a yelp when Darin examined (aka tried to make him move) his arm. Right before we left the house, my friend Juli had reminded me that another friend had a child that had had an arm injury, so on the way to Urgent Care I called Lisa. Her little Ellie had suffered from a dislocated elbow and when she described that situation, she could have been describing Tyson.

So we got to Urgent Care, told them we thought our boy had a dislocated elbow, went through the x-ray process just in case (I am SO glad Darin was there for that as it would have broken my heart based on what Darin said). Then came the real fun-popping the arm back into place. Oh my brave boy. He really did SUCH a great job. There was some crying and when when we told him to say "thank-you" to the doctor he only glared, but he was one tough cookie. It was really a super fast fix and once Tyson realized he could move his arm without too much pain, his spirits were much improved.

So we headed back to Hudsonville, stopped to get Jori and let Tyson show off his cool new sling, then headed home and had our two sleepy kids in bed a little before 9. Tyson is almost as good as new today, although it still hurts when he tries to extend it all the way, so we'll be keeping the sling on another day at least.

Here's Tyson with his "arm patch". I am not sure why he calls it that, but it could be because "my sling is NOT like David's sling" (from the Bible).


And here is the kooky kid describing his injury in his own kooky way.

video

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Fun with Papa John

At the end of January, Papa John came out to Michigan for some meetings. We were so happy that he extended his trip for a WHOLE weekend to spend time with us. We went out to dinner, played Wii, went bowling and had ice cream, and played outside.

I am terrible about taking pictures, but did manage to get this shot of the kids and Papa sledding, as well as some video.


video

I also took a couple pictures right before we took Papa back to the airport. They were not what you'd call a success. I love my kids, but they are a little strange! Notice the goggles on Tyson's head and the pajamas sticking out from under Jori's clothes. This first one is the "best" shot.

The other three were some variation of the following:Thanks for coming to see us Papa. We can't wait to see you again in July!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Lenten Activities for Kids

My kids really enjoyed the different activities that we did for Advent, so I decided to pull a few things together to help them learn more about the season of Lent. There are a lot of different ideas out there, which can be kind of overwhelming, but I think I found a few fun and simple ideas to try.

I started by making a calendar and marking down the significant events that will happen from now until Easter, which will be on April 4. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, which is in 2 days. Palm Sunday, Passover, Maudy Thursday and Good Friday are some other significant days.

On Wednesday I am going to be starting a Prayer Pot, which will actually be a glass bowl because I do not have a pot and do not want to go and buy the clay to make one. These are the instructions for the Prayer Pot (to go to the actual site, click here):

On Ash Wednesday: Place the prayer pot in a special place where it can't be missed, perhaps the center of the family table. It reminds everyone that Lent is here, but remains empty for the next few days.

On the First Sunday of Lent: A small heart cut from construction paper is placed in the pot during the main meal, to remind everyone of God's love and that they should show their love for, and be kind to, others.

On the Second Sunday of Lent: A small seed is placed in the pot to remind everyone that God's love for them constantly grows and that they should show love and compassion for other people.

On the Third Sunday of Lent: Place a rubber band in the pot as a reminder that God always stretches His patience and everyone should do the same for others, even when it isn't easy.

On the Fourth Sunday of Lent: A marble is placed in the pot to remind everyone to take turns and share with others in all that they do.

On the Fifth Sunday of Lent: Add a Band-Aid to the pot to remind everyone to help other people when they are sad or hurt.

On Palm Sunday: Place a tiny piece of the palm you get at mass, to remind everyone that Jesus is their King and they should remember to say their prayers to Him.

On Easter Sunday: The last item is a tiny piece of eggshell to remind everyone that Jesus will always be with them and is always ready to hear their prayers.

Last year I made a set of "Resurrection Eggs". These were a HUGE hit with my kids. I would hide the eggs around the house, they'd find them, I'd let them take turns opening the eggs and I'd tell them the story of Easter. By the 3rd or 4th time, they could pretty much tell ME the whole story. I think we did the Resurrection Egg hunt and story about 3 times a day for 2 weeks at least. Here is a link that tells you how to make your own set of Resurrection Eggs. Seriously a great way to help your kids learn the Easter story, even the little ones! There are other things you can put in your eggs, like perfume and a palm branch, so if you don't like the ideas in the link, just google "Resurrection Eggs" and find something that works better for you. I am also planning on making "Resurrection Cookies" at some point, but I might have to do a trial run first to make sure they'll turn out.

One other thing that I am going to do, but haven't totally developed yet, is talk about one "character" who was with Jesus at the cross each week leading up to Easter. This idea came from my dad, who also passed on the following information:

Judas: Matthew 27:1-10
It started with “borrowing” a few coins now and then from the common purse. Nothing big—and besides, I deserved a little something for my work as treasurer. Before long, I was helping myself to a bigger share. I needed the money, and nobody seemed to miss it. And then came my big opportunity: a one-time payoff to assist in a secret arrest. They’ll eventually get Jesus anyway, with or without my help, so I might as well be the one to cash in on it.
But now it’s finally hitting me: What started with pinching a few coins here and there has led to me being an accessory to murder. And the victim is a man who treated me with nothing but perfect kindness and friendship for three years, a person who called me “friend” even as I betrayed him. The money I thought I loved disgusts me now. I tried to give it back, but the men who paid me couldn’t care less.
I wish I could undo what I’ve done—but it’s too late. What I’ve done sickens me. I threw the money down. And now I’m going to do the only thing I can think of . . . exactly what I deserve.
Simon of Cyrene: Mark 15:21-22
My pilgrimage was almost over. I’d traveled all the way from Cyrene in Libya for the Passover celebration in Jerusalem. I was coming up the road on my way into the city when I met the huge crowd of people all staring at something . . . or someone.
Three men carrying stout wooden beams were being nudged along at sword-point, headed for crucifixion. One looked like he should have been dead already—his back bloody, his face beaten to a pulp, his eyes swollen nearly shut. Some sadist had even jammed a wreath of thorns into his scalp. It was awful . . . but what could I do for him? I began to move on.
A rough hand grabbed my shoulder. I turned to see the bloody prisoner pinned under the heavy beam. He couldn’t carry it another step. The soldiers were telling me to help him. Of all the people here . . . why me? I’d just made that long trip in from Cyrene, and now I was supposed to lug a cross uphill for an exhausted criminal?
As it turns out, my life would never be the same. The troublesome task forced on me became the greatest privilege any man could ever have—because the bloody stranger whose cross I carried was the Son of God, my living Lord. My sons, Alexander and Rufus, were with me that day. They too became followers of Jesus. We know, better than most, that anyone who does not carry his cross and follow Jesus cannot be his disciple.
The Soldier: John 19:19-24
You get used to it after a while. The first crucifixion is always the hardest. The naked flesh, the oozing blood, the buzzing flies, the first shrieks of pain followed by hours of gasping suffocation—the first time you see it, it turns your stomach. But after a while you can handle it. And if you’re lucky, you might even get a little something for yourself.
Most of the time, you don’t know the people you’re crucifying. You’re a soldier, and your job is to do what you’re told. But this is different. It’s hard to resist having a little fun with a fellow labeled “King of the Jews.” Before you nail him up, give him a stick for a scepter, a crown made of thorns, rough him up a bit, and then bow down to “the king.” Way more entertaining than your average execution.
Today there’s something for everybody. All four soldiers get a piece of clothing they can sell at a local pawnshop. But what about that seamless tunic? It would be a shame to cut it up. Hey, how about a game to pass the time? Calvary Casino! Winner gets the tunic.
See? It’s not so hard to do this. After a while, nothing shocks you any more.
Mary: John 19:25-27
When my son was just a baby, being dedicated at the temple, old Simeon said, “A sword will pierce your own soul too.” That prophecy has echoed often in my ears. At the time I had no idea what those words could mean. Now I know. My firstborn is nailed to a cross. This grief . . . it’s beyond imagining.
John is beside me, weighed down by his own sorrow. He left everything to follow Jesus . . . awed by his miracles, transfixed by his teaching. Over the years he became a close friend to my son. And now this Friend beyond all friends is dying.
John and I stand together near the cross, our world in ruins. Then we hear the voice we both love speaking to us. Through my tears I look into the tender eyes of my son. “Dear woman, here is your son.” I turn my head and John’s eyes meet mine. “Here is your mother,” Jesus says.
I am not alone, and neither is John. Together we will get through this.
The Dying Thief: Luke 23:39-43
My life was a waste—a complete disaster. The world would have been better off without me. In the end it did get rid of me. My crimes and cruelty got me here, and I deserve this death.
At first I cursed the guy hanging next to me, right along with the other criminal. But then I got to thinking: “If God is real, before long, I’ll be facing him.” I knew I was on the cross because I deserved it . . . but Jesus was totally innocent. It struck me then that maybe, just maybe, this wouldn’t be the end of Jesus. I’m not sure where that idea came from, but I became more and more convinced of it. So I said it: “Jesus, remember me. . . .”
In heaven, there’ll be no more pain. No more sorrow. No more hatred. No more guilt. Only joy, peace, delight, and acceptance. Jesus will be there too . . . radiant beyond description. And I’ll be with him forever!
The Centurion: Mark 15:33-39
I’ve never seen anything like it. He turns down the offer of wine mixed with myrrh to dope him up and ease the pain. Seems he’d rather suffer the worst with a clear head. The soldiers strip him naked, spread him out, hammer spikes into his wrists and heels, hoist him up—and what does he say? “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” There’s something unearthly about him.
At noon everything turns dark. It stays that way for three hours. Then, around three o’clock, after six hours of hanging there, when you’d expect him to have no energy left, he suddenly shouts in a loud voice, “It is finished!” It’s almost seems like he’s in control somehow; he decides when enough is enough. “Father,” he says quietly, “into your hands I commit my spirit.” And then he dies.
That’s when the earthquake hits. Is God himself reacting to this? People are staggering, rocks are shattering, as if somehow Jesus’ death has shifted the entire universe. Surely this man was the Son of God!

So we'll see how it goes!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Appetizer

This is a recipe from my friend, Jen. I have been wanting to make it since she brought it to our small group volleyball showdown a few months ago. Last night I brought it to an Ugly Sweater party. It was a big hit.

Auntie's Avocado Dip
2 avocados
2 tomatoes
1/2 med. sweet onion
1/2 can black olives (I omitted cause I don't like them)
1 jalapeno pepper (no seeds)
2 oz feta cheese
a squirt of two of lime juice
1 garlic clove
1/4 tsp. cumin
1 Tbs. cilantro
1/4 cup Italian dressing

Combine lime juice, cumin, cilantro, and dressing. Chop everything else except the feta cheese and stir with dressing mixture. Add cheese last. Make at least 4 hours ahead of time. Can be doubled for a large group!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Breakfast for Dinner

For the past couple months, I've been trying to cook breakfast for dinner at least once a week to save a little money. It has been a HUGE hit. Usually, I just make pancakes, because they are cheap and easy, but sometimes I branch out. Here are two other breakfast dishes I've recently made.

The first is from my college friend, Lisa. I actually found another recipe quite similar to hers, but it was for double the amount and it had a little vanilla extract thrown in. Here is the double recipe
Dutch Babies

Mix 1 cup flour, 1 cup milk, dash of salt, dash of vanilla and 4 eggs until batter is lumpy (I mixed it in the blender). In the meantime preheat oven to 425. When oven is close to being preheated, place 1/2 cup (or a little less) butter in a 9x13 baking dish and place in the oven. Once you hear the butter sizzle (I wasn't listening and my oven got a bit spattered) remove the baking dish. Add the batter and bake for 20-25 minutes. The edges of the dutch baby will poof up and start curling over.
Serve with syrup or strawberries and powdered sugar

This next recipe comes from my sister, Laurie. I have never been brave enough to make it on my own, because it seemed like a lot of stuff to be dealing with, but it was easy and SO GOOD.

French Toast with Vanilla Cream Syrup
You will need French bread, half and half, eggs, sugar, vanilla, corn syrup (dark or light), whipping cream and berries

For the bread:
Cut French bread 1/2 inch thick
combine 1 1/3 cup half and half, 4 eggs, 1 Tbsp sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla

Dip the bread in this mixture. Don't let it soak up too much or your bread will be soggy, but make sure it is wet through. Cook in a pan or griddle. (I made 1/2 a batch-about 6 pieces-one night and made more of this mixture for the rest of the bread the next day)

Serve with Vanilla Cream Syrup
Stir together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup corn syrup (recipe calls for light, I only had dark and it was fine) and 1/2 cup whipping cream over medium heat and simmer until melted. Remove from stove, add 1 tsp vanilla. Cool, then whip until thickened.

If you want, you can make Whipped Cream using some of your remaining whipping cream. I Googled "How to make whipped cream with whipping cream" and it said to use a metal bowl and put the bowl and whipping cream in the freezer for a while, so I did. Then I whipped the cream with my mixer for a minute or so until it started looking thick. Then I added some sugar and vanilla, then whipped it again. It looked right and tasted good, so I must have done something right!

Serve with strawberries or other berries too. Tyson and Jori and Mr. "I only want one piece because I went out for a big lunch today" Fey all loved it and I will definitely be making it again.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Fey's Cinnamon Rolls

This morning I was signed up to bring the snack to Bible Study. I decided to be brave and try to make my mother-in-laws cinnamon rolls. First I will give you the recipe, then I will tell you if I being brave paid off.

1 loaf frozen bread dough, thawed
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup vanilla ice cream
1 cup brown sugar
cinnamon
sugar

Rolls:
Thaw bread dough in the fridge for the day. (I took it out about an hour before I was going to make the dough, because in my mind room temperature dough would be easier to work with than cold dough.)
Toss a little flour on the counter and roll the dough out (not too much, just enough to roll the dough over a couple times, but it needs to be long enough to cut 12 rolls).
While it is FLAT (in other words, before you roll it) sprinkle some cinnamon and sugar over the dough, but not too much!
Roll it and squeeze the ends so it stays rolled up.
Cut into 12 rolls
Lay on top of the caramel ice cream sauce

Caramel Ice Cream Sauce:
Mix 1/2 cup butter (I microwaved it for about 20 seconds), 1/2 cup vanilla ice cream and 1 cup of brown sugar.

Spread the sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Set them in the oven OVERNIGHT covered with a non stick lid (tinfoil sprayed with Pam). In the morning, remove the cover and bake for about 30 minutes at 350. Take out of the oven and tip them onto something (lid, platter, tinfoil...) so the sauce side is up.

Ok, so the recipe that I had varied in one way for the recipe printed above. It said to bake COVERED for 20 minutes and uncovered for 3. I did this and took my rolls out of the oven a little before 9 and they looked PERFECT. So I tipped the burning hot pan over and could see the bubbling caramel ice cream sauce. Then I realized two things- The corners of the rolls were stuck to the pan and I could not see any rolls in the center of my roll formation. Why? Well, they were still pretty much dough and had just flopped into a pile of goo. SO disappointing. I had no time to fret though, because even though I was not going to be staying at Bible study today because I had a semi sick kid, I had told them I'd bring the snack. So we got in the van ran into Family Fare, bought some cinnamon rolls that were on a rack in the front of the store, ran to church, dropped off the rolls and came home.

While I was driving home, I called my sister in law, Daci, and told her my sad tale. Daci then informed my that she never bakes the rolls covered and always bakes them for AT LEAST 30 minutes. Well, I just happened to have a second pan of rolls that I had made for the fam, so I baked them following Daci's directions and 35 minutes later I was enjoying some AWESOME cinnamon rolls with Tyson and Jori. We each had 2 and I am planning on finishing the 6 that are left tonight (with my family, of course!) The corners of the second batch also stuck a little, so next time I would spray a little Pam in the corners and on the edges to prevent the stick.

Would I make these again, yes! Would I make them for someone else, I am not sure. They are not "pretty" when they come out, so I wouldn't make them to bring somewhere, but if you ever stay over night at my house and I have all the ingredients to make these rolls, I would totally do it for you!